A mysterious cloud descended and obliterated an unfinished wall of the parish church.
The townsfolk watched while the cloud dissipated and a beautiful fresco, no thicker than an egg shell and no more than eighteen inches square, of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was revealed.
It was widely believed that it had been miraculously transported from a church in Scutari, Albania.
Such was the holy image’s reputation that Pope Urban VIII made a “glittering” pilgrimage there in 1630, invoking the protection of the Queen of Heaven, as did Pope Pius IX in 1864. In 1682, Pope Innocent XI had the picture solemnly crowned.
There was a particular devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel in the nineteenth and early twentieth century at the time when many Catholic churches in Great Britain were being built. Her feast day is April 26th.
Whatever we think about the story of the miraculous image, the painting draws us into the life of Mary. Her stillness leads our attention to Christ. Mary does not look at Jesus or out at us. Maybe she is contemplating the future events in Christ’s life. She is the wise mother Luke describes in the Gospel story of the shepherds’ visit to the manger:
As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
We do not know why March Catholic church has Our Lady of Good Counsel as our patron but we can be sure that she prays for us.